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Updated: Aug 23, 2022

By Mara Zuniga

Blake Aued, an Athens journalist, once again has written an article that takes some truth, and

some misinformation to try and create a story that is fitting to him. That article is called “Your

Questions Answered About Athens new Marijuana and Abortion Laws”, dated 8/10/22 in theFlagpole. I would like to say that every article Mr. Aued writes gets better at deploying a common writer’s trick of using facts from verified news sources, layering it with misinformation to confuse the reader in order to lend to the credibility of their piece.

Although he did not mention me by name, Mr. Aued did make reference to my comments

regarding the decriminalization of marijuana resolution that was voted on August 2, 2022. 

However, he neglected to report as part of those comments that I was proposing a drug

counseling course as a form of intervention for anyone experiencing mental health issues,

financial stress or any other problems for which marijuana smoking may be providing a

temporary relief.

It would seem to be the perfect opportunity for intervention. However, the hall was filled with

the usual young liberals who probably were on Commissioner Parker’s, Denson’s and Houle’s

speed dial. Proponents, as usual, stated that black and vulnerable residents were the reason

they were there. It wasn’t because they wanted to get a free ride if they got caught with

marijuana. It is always the black and vulnerable they are fighting to represent. There were

about 3 black individuals supporting it (1 not from Athens) and about 3 against it.

I distributed to the commission members and mayor a handout of a quote by a sitting

commissioner, whom I did not identify.  The commissioner tweeted getting “high as a mf: y’all when we pass this marijuana ordinance Aug 2nd”.  I said this was a mockery of a serious

situation and disrespectful to the vulnerable groups facing marijuana punishment.

Commissioner Parker shouted with pride that she was the one who had tweeted it. The room

exploded with applause. If the room had been filled with the “vulnerable” folks, she and the

young liberals claim they were fighting for, I might have been swayed. But Commissioner

Parker’s fans are usually young and white. Hence the reason many people of color do not go, make themselves visible or support her on these issues. She does not represent the people she claims she does. This information was not brought up by Mr. Aued in his article as it might reflect badly on commissioner Parker with the public. It seems as if Mr. Aued has taken it upon himself to decide what the public should be made aware of and not.

When the resolution for reproductive freedom came up. I noticed there were many men

speaking up for my rights. My right to my body. The resolution stated that doctors will not be

prosecuted, and neither will women. I started to think how wonderful it is to really believe in

these rights when not even less than a year ago, doctors who wanted to help people affected with covid were being harassed and prosecuted for treating patients in accordance with their medical knowledge and the patients consent. They were shamed. People were shamed for making personal medical decisions about their bodies. The resolution stated that it should be up to a doctor and their client as to what they chose to do with their body. 

Because so many men were speaking up for what pertains to my body, I wanted to point out

the complexity of the issue and used vaccinations as something that is my choice because it pertains to my body. I did say “I do not want vaccines in my body”.  I was referring to EUA vaccines mandated by the Government. 

Instead of Mr. Aued calling, emailing or texting me for clarification he chose to “assume” and report that I had “revealed”  that I was an anti vaxxer.  Iwould challenge him to first look up the definition of an anti vaxxer.  

No, Mr. Aued, I am not an anti vaxxer. I am fully vaccinated with all FDA approved vaccines that

are necessary to attend any public school.

I am however under the belief that the COVID vaccines should not be locally or federally

mandated when many studies have shown that it doesn’t help the spread, rather lessens the

effects of the individual who contracts it. If we want to stop COVID, mandating vaccines is not

the most effective way.

As for the mask throwing, if Mr. Aued would have asked me, I would have informed him that

anytime I go to large room assemblies, I test myself. I tested negative that day.

Mr. Aued was more than eager to share Commissioner Russell Edwards' tantrum, while ignoring Commissioner Parker’s display. He quoted Commissioner Russell saying that it was stupid by a mayoral candidate to have taken her mask off and thrown it during a pandemic. However, the state of emergency that was on, was going to be lifted in 4 hours or less per local government’s approval in their previous session. Commissioner Russell and Blake Aued failed to mention that Gwen O'Looney,a former mayor of Athens, that very same night took her mask off to speak, left it on the podium and the next speaker was so disgusted she picked up the mask and threw it to O’Looney who did not bother to even look back. It landed on the floor. No one picked it up. No one reprimanded the former mayor’s actions.

Athens deserves better than news articles that are so biased to the point they deliver only half

the news. We are a university town and The Flagpole should raise the standards they have for their journalists.

Zuniga unsuccessfully ran for Athens mayor in May

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